British Airways had amazing business class fares that allowed use of stackable discounts this fall. Some people were booking business class tickets between the US and Europe for less than $500 in cash (plus points), for instance.
With British Airways devaluing its points back in April upgrades became more expensive from premium economy to business class for flights 2001 miles or or longer. But for upgrades from business class to first class you’re still paying what a coach award ticket would cost in miles for the flight with no cash co-pay. And even deep discount business class fares are upgradeable. “Only the lowest economy fares (Q, O and G) cannot be upgraded with Avios”
British Airways First Class
British Airways first class isn’t one of the world’s best, though it’s better than business class. The cabin is gorgeous. And I find the smaller cabin (relative to business) to be more restful. The aircraft makes a difference as well, with the Airbus A380 better than the 777 better than the 747.
A little under two weeks ago, ExpertFlyer added support for British Airways ‘special classes’. That means I was able to set an alert for upgrade space opening up, and once it did they sent me an email.
British Airways doesn’t waitlist for upgrades. The space opens up and it’s first come first served. So there may well have been British Airways elites on much more expensive tickets than me who would have loved to upgrade from business to first. But thanks to Expert Flyer, I’ve got the upgrades.
British Airways First Class
The IT process involved doesn’t always go smoothly:
- I went online to try to upgrade but as I’ve most often found the BA.com website failed when trying to process an upgrade.
- So I rang up the US Executive Club number. They took my information, verified availability, and then transferred me to the UK call center.
- The UK call center then had to change their point of sale, because they couldn’t process a US member’s points for an upgrade while their computers appeared to be doing so from the UK. It still wouldn’t process. A supervisor couldn’t get it to go through.
- The agent and her supervisor processed the upgrade manually, taking the points out themselves. No difference in taxes or fees, they pulled out 45,000 Avios for two passengers. I expected a cost of 50,000 points [the difference between a business and first class award, i.e. the cost of a coach award, for 2 passengers on a just-under 5000 mile flight].
I was happy to draw down my 600,000 Avios balance. At 4500 or 7500 points per award I haven’t been spending those quickly enough.
We’ll see whether I fly business or first class on my return from London, but for my overnight flight I’ve got the upgrade. I have my British Airways account number in the reservation for ease of processing upgrades, which I will switch before my outbound departure. For ease I do hope space opens up on the return before then, but I’ll manage either way — I definitely want to be crediting the flight to my American AAdvantage account and not to BA.